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Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle


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Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle



We have seen many times in the movies, TV series as well as video games story plots based on taking over the world; Aliens, mad scientist, strange criatures, etc; but no one has mixed all of them in one story as this classic game developed back in 1993 has done.

Lucasarts is well known for its orginality as well as for the quality of its games; at least in the Adventure Games field. Since 1987 when Maniac Mansion was published, Lucasarts used to amaze us, year by year, with its original adventures; making this genre's buffs forget each and every other company release, focusing almost exclusively in the new Lucas game.

So the year was 1993, and a new chance for the characters of the old Maniac Mansion game to see the light had arisen.

 

As soon as the game begins the first thing we see is a beautiful scene of a landscape full of greenery, prairies, lakes; but a few seconds later the beautiful scene is broken by a bird suffocated by a poisonous substance in the air generated by a polluted river, falling down in a humorous cartoony way followed by a corresponding sound effect.

The next scene introduces -for the second time in history- Purple and Green Tentacle (Dr. Fred's pets from its predecessor game), who are taking a walk through the Dr Fred's mansion's backyard. As Purple Tentacle is thirsty, he stops to drink a bit of the sludge-like water, much to the disagreement of his companion he doesn't listen him and drinks the polluted water, which immediately causes a mutation in his tentaculous body growing arms. As it usually happens in this kind of stories, the mutation victim decides to the take the path of wrong or bad actions; and this one would not be the exception as Purple decides it would be a good idea to...take over the world!

After that scene filled with evil intentions and threats against humanity, the intro cools down a little, showing what happens later that night in the apartment of Bernard (the nerd of Maniac Mansion), Laverne (a biology student) and Hoagie (a fun-loving heavy music rocker); when a hamster brings a message from Green Tentacle to his old friend Bernard.

In the message he asks for Bernard's help, since Dr. Fred decided it would be safer for the world to kill both tentacles. In order to save his friend, Bernard must return after six years BACK to the crazy mansion of the Edisons. He takes with him his two roomates, setting the tentacles free. The good news is he saved Green Tentacle, the bad news is he doomed the world to be dominated by tentacles.

Day of the Tentacle

After the big mistake of Bernard and his friend, Dr. Fred will try to stop the plans of his evil pet sending our three "heroes" back in time to stop Purple tentacle from drinking the polluted water. However, as you can imagine in these case, things go wrong and they are catapulted to different moments in time. Hoagie ends up back in the 18th century colonial times, Laverne is sent 200 years in the future when the world is dominated by tentacles and humans are nothing more than their pets; while Bernard stays in the present.

So it is up to you now to help this trio on their quest to save the world, but first you have to bring Laverne and Hogie back to 1993.

The basic story of the game couldn't be more entertaining; as it blends humor, science fiction, time travel, history and perfect puzzles in a way that makes this game one of the favorites of players of all ages; hitting almost every top games in history chart of different sites and magazines and for sure one of the TOP 20 Adventure Games of all times.

THE GRAPHICS:

Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle could be considered as the first game to use cartoony style graphics for the environment and the characters. The graphics of this game could be described as surreal and rather stylized, they look like the Tiny Toons (a revival of the old Warner Bros characters), so popular back in the 90s.

The colors are so vivid and beautiful, improving even more the sceneries. The animations are just incredible, remember we are playing a 1993 game. They keep all the time loyal to the cartton style, so much that since the release of Day of the Tentacle, subsequent games following this graphics style were known as DOTT style games. Details like animated facial expressions and physical body humor (heads blowing off, Hoagie scratching his back side or funny burps) add more points to the total.

When you play this game you feel like playing a cartoon movie. From the very first moment the intro combines perfectly these funny graphics with the prevalent humor. Speaking of the intro, it was one of the longest, if not the longest seen until that moment; making the player wishing to see more of the same thing during the adventure. Fortunately the game itself does not disappoint us, giving that expected more.

The game is based on a verbs-driven interface, and even the verbs and inventory objects look cartoony.

The graphics are a step forward in the gaming industry, introducing a new style that was copied by other Lucasarts games (Sam & Max Hit the Road for instance) as well as by other companies. Again the guys of Lucasarts showed us they are always a step ahead when talking about innovation.

The responsible for these innovative graphics are Peter Chan and Sean Turner working on the background images (who also worked on Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge) while Larry Ahern is the creator and animator who brought the characters to life.

In a few words, the graphics are colorful, funny, splendid, beautiful and excellent. A step ahead for a 1993 game.

Day of the Tentacle

THE SOUNDS:

If DOTT is innovative in graphics we can say the same about the sounds; They make use of the iMuse sound technology implemented by the SCUMM engine since version 5 (DOTT was developed with SCUMM version 6). The game is filled with sound effects that follow the corresponding character movements and actions. Following the prevailing style of the game, they sound like the Foley effects implemented in cartoons.

The voice acting is wonderful and very professional keeping up with the Lucasarts quality we are used to experience when playing its adventures. The voices fit well with each character, making Bernard sound nerdy, the Purple Tentacle evil, Dr. Fred like your usual crazy scientist, etc. Some of the actors include celebrities like Richard Sanders performing Bernard's voice; and Nick Jameson playing Doctor Fred Edison, Doctor Red Edison, Zed and Dwayne.

Thanks to the iMuse sound technology, the MIDI music changes according to the situation, scene and time (remember it is a time travel game), for example when you are playing in Colonial times with Hoagie a patriotic type of music is heard, while in the future the music is changed to a sort of techno rhythm. There are some popular tunes like The Battle Hymn of the Republic when Hoagie visits the Edisons' mansion of the past and Yankee Doodle when interacting with Bejamin Franklin.

There are two versions of this game, the floppy disk on and the CD-ROM version. The latter features full digitized speech throughout the game, while the floppy version only during the intro. It also includes more sound effects not available in the original release. So the differences are exclusively related to the sound; other than that, there are no differences between the two formats.

So the sounds can also be qualified as funny and excellent at the same time; keeping the pace with the graphics and humor of the game.

Day of the Tentacle

THE GAMEPLAY:

 

As it happens with previous Lucasarts games, DOTT is based on the point-and-click verb-driven SCUMM interface system invented by Ron Gilbert and used on every game of this company since Maniac Mansion back in 1987. In this case it uses version 6 of the SCUMM engine. The interface is located on the bottom-left of the screen and includes 9 commands: Give, Open, Close, Pick Up, Look At, Talk To, Use, Push and Pull. So when you want to pick up an object, you have to click on the Pick Up command and then on that certain object.

The inventory is located on the bottom-right of the screen. There are 6 visible spaces for objects, so when you have more than that number of items two navigation arrows are shown to the right in order to go up and down through the inventory. Objects can be manipulated by dragging them to the object of the scenery or the inventory you want to interact with, or a character if you must give him/her that certain item.

Unlike older games (like Maniac Mansion), this interface is intelligent and can detect the corresponding action for the specified object you are interacting with. For instance when pointing to a closed door, the Open command is highlighted, so just clicking on the door it is opened, without the need of selecting the command before opening; once it is opened the Close command is automatically highlighted, so by just clicking again while pointing on the same door it will be closed. Of course there are some cases in which you have to use your wit and this system is not applied, as it would "suggest" you what to do.

Since each character is stuck in different time eras and still must interact sending each other objects in order to solve some puzzles; there is a clever (and funny) system to send the items back and forth in time, using the time machine known as the Chron-O-John, that flushes the objects through time like a toilet.

To switch between characters, there are two faces of the other one you are not playing with at that certain moment, so you must click on the picture of the character you want to select and the scene changes immediately.

The conversation system is based on the options system, whereby you must select the appropriate sentence. So when talking to other characters the answers may differ according to what you say. Sometimes the selection of the appropriate sentence is required in order to get some clues.

Fortunately there is no pixel hunting in this game, so all the objects are clearly visible when you are exploring the mansion and its surroundings in the three time eras.

The puzzles are really clever and entertaining, hardly the player might get bored; however there are a few ones somewhat illogical which require some bizarre actions in order to get solved; but there are are just a few of those. Some puzzles require the use of objects located in different times, so the characters must send each other the specific item needed in that certain case.

One particular, sort of easter egg, in this game is the possibility of playing the old Maniac Mansion game when turning on Weird Ed's computer in his room. This is the full version of the 1987 adventure; which can be played as a full game-in-game.

All in all the difficulty level of this game is medium to hard, but still not hard enough to be considered as difficult.

This is a no-death and no dead-ends game, so you can explore all the scenes and interact with every character without the fear of dying or getting stuck and the need of saving the game constantly.

So, the gameplay of DOTT gets also another excellent to be added to the list.

Day of the Tentacle

 

CONCLUSION:
 
Despite the game is based on a cartoony style, many might think it is sort of silly, but on the contrary it is a really clever story, the graphics are innovative for the time it was released, colorful and beautiful; the sounds fit perfectly the story and the graphics and the quality is excellent even for today's standards; the puzzles, though not intimidating are mostly entertaining and clever.

All in all this game is a must, and hardly gets any negative reviews. No wonder why it is considered by many reputed sites and game magazines as one of the top games in history.

I highly recommend it!

GRAPHICS 5.0
SOUND 5.0
GAMEPLAY 5.0
OVERALL 5.0
PROS: The graphics are innovative for the time, beautiful and fit perfectly the story. The sound is incredible even for today's standards. The story is funny and entertaining. The gameplay and the puzzles make you forget at times about everything outside of the game

CONS: Could not find any, this is one of those games that hardly get any negative comments.

Developer: Lucasarts Games
Publisher: Lucasarts Games
Year: 1993
Genre: Adventure
Subgenre: Puzzle Solving, Historical, Cartoon Game
Control: Point-and-click
Perspective: Third-Person
Platform: DOS, Mac OS, Amiga
Medium: 6 3.5'' Diskettes, CD-ROM
Language: Voices: English, Deutsch | Text: English, Español, Deutsch, Français
Other: Licensed property
Game Design: Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer
Original Story: Ron Gilbert, David Grossman, Tim Schafer, Gary Winnicka
Producer: Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer
System Requirements: PC Minimum Requirements:
IBM and 100% compatibles, MS-DOS 3.1 or higher, MSCDEX 2.1 or higher • 286 minimum, 386 or higher recommended • double speed CD-ROM drive recommended • DOS 3.1 or higher • 2MB expanded memory required • Keyboard, mouse or joystick (mouse recommended) • 256-color VGA • One player • SoundBlaster, SoundBlaster Pro, AdLib and 100% compatibles. Also supports Roland and General MIDI with MPU-401 MIDI interface or compatible

Mac Minimum Requirements:
System 7
68040 or PowerPC
8 MB memory (4 MB free)

    
    
 

 

 

 


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